News / Africa

Niger Uneasy About French Troops Tracking Abductions

Image taken from video and provided by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group shows the first images of a group of foreign hostages working for a French energy company who were seized in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot, 30 Sept. 2010
Image taken from video and provided by U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group shows the first images of a group of foreign hostages working for a French energy company who were seized in Niger by an al-Qaida offshoot, 30 Sept. 2010

French troops are in Niger to help search for hostages abducted by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida.

The hostages abducted last month from Niger's huge French uranium mine are now thought to be in neighboring Mali. So there is no on-the-ground hunt for the hostages here. Instead, the 80 French troops in Niger's capital are conducting aerial surveillance of the group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb along Mali's border with Algeria.

The head of the French military, Edouard Guillaud, says there are no immediate plans to use those troops to help free the hostages.

For the moment, he says, French forces in the Sahel are here to support diplomacy.

The strain of the kidnapping and the deployment of French troops has caused some tension between Niger's military government, France, and the French energy firm Areva.

Regional diplomats here say there is an unhappy cooperation with the French deployment. Niger's government knows it can not refuse the troops because this is not Niger's fight. There is an acknowledgement that terrorism has hurt tourism and could threaten future investment. The hope, diplomats say, is that al-Qaida and the French will both leave Niger in peace.

Political science professor Mahaman Tidjani Alou says the arrival of both al-Qaida and French troops means Niger no longer has any privacy. It is as if the country is now simply part of a larger territory.

Alou says these are problems effecting Niger in such a way that its leaders appear helpless.   What will happen in the future, he asks. Either Sahelian countries will be strengthened to better control their territories and protect their sovereignty or they are going to occupied by foreign armies or other groups like al-Qaida.

With the resources Niger has today, Alou says the country is becoming more and more attractive to groups like Areva. Areva is already here, he says, but no one knows where it will stop. Alou says the problems of security are in Niger and Mali but the negotiations to find solutions are taking place in Paris and Washington. That, he says, is the paradox.

Algerian security analyst Hamad Yassine says French troops in the Sahel threaten Algeria's self-appointed role as the regional leader in the fight against al-Qaida.

Yassine says Algeria is organizing Sahelian military and intelligence chiefs to make clear that it is in charge of this fight. Yassine says it is a message to the Sarkozy government that French troops must leave regional security cooperation to Algeria, since Algeria believes it knows best this al-Qaida group because it began in Algeria.

Mauritanian political analyst Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Abu al-Maaly says French intervention in the hostage crisis would give al-Qaida a huge propaganda win.

He says French troops are like adding oil to a fire because it justifies al-Qaida's presence in the region as a popular force defending the sovereignty of Sahelian people against foreign intervention. He doubts Algeria's ability to better coordinate anti-terrorism efforts because of mistrust among Sahelian governments, which makes it easier for al-Qaida to operate.

Al-Qaida's attack on the uranium mine here was an unusually bold move for a group that previously focused on kidnapping tourists and aid workers. The vulnerability of such an important investment for Niger has lead to finger pointing over security and sovereignty.

Government spokesman Laouali Dan Dah says Niger's military offered to take over security at the Areva mine in July. But Areva chose instead to use its own unarmed guards unlike, Dan Dah says, any of the other mining firms in Niger. Areva says 350 troops stationed at the local airport were meant to regularly patrol living areas from where the hostages were abducted.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs